Posted by Suzanna Hinson

In December, Russia began generating more electricity from nuclear power as Unit 4 of the Beloyarsk plant in Sverdlovsk was connected to the grid. The new addition is a BN-800 fast neutron reactor with a capacity of 789MWe making it the world’s second most powerful fast reactor. It is fuelled by a mixture of uranium and plutonium oxides and, as a breeder reactor, produces more fuel as it burns.

The connection of the reactor has been heralded as an outstanding event for the Russian nuclear industry as it is the first of its kind to be launched in 35 years. Andrey Petrov, general director Rosenergoatom (a subsidiary of Rosatom) said that although the fast reactor had presented challenges the achievement marked “another important step in the transition of Russia’s nuclear industry to a new technology platform”.

In line with the aim, last week the Russian energy ministry approved Rosenergoatom’s 2016-2018 investment programme, allocating the equivalent of almost $7 billion to the civil nuclear power plant operator. It is thus likely that there will be more developments and achievements in Russia’s nuclear industry to come.


  1. Charles Barton says:

    Fast reactors, whether cooled by liquid metals or by molten salts, have a huge disadvantage when compared with thermal thorium breeders. That is that at they require a start charge of fissionable materials that is 10 times larger than a thermal thorium breeder, whether cooled by heavy water or floride salts. This means that there is a very large scaleability gap between Thermal breeders and fast breeders. The problem is serious because since we need a highly scaleable energy source if we are to meet our GHG goals by 2050’s. Unfortunately we have not recognized the scaleability problem yet.

    • Engineer-Poet says:

      Fast-spectrum reactors have their place.  They are the only ones which can fully consume higher actinides rather than leaving them as waste products.  In this niche they are nonpareil.

      Molten-chloride reactors may wind up taking over from solid-fuel LMFBRs, but the need for some variety of fast-spectrum reactor remains regardless.

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